February 2016 Newsletter
Dear Friends of Rio del Cambio:
Thanks to your generosity, the villagers of Citalapa had a very special Christmas dinner. In addition to the usual beans, rice and oil, each family received chicken, potatoes, onion, tomatoes and green peppers. Each food basket must feed 6-8 people. This was truly a feast for the villagers! For many, this is the first time since going to the beach last February that they have had chicken or any meat protein. They were all very excited and truly appreciative.
To show their appreciation, the villagers came together after Christmas and cleaned all of the streets of any garbage and dead vegetation. They cleaned then repainted the Learning Centre trim and the front retaining wall as well as cleaned the school yard and touched up the interior. It was a day to give thanks and celebrate as a community for how Rio del Cambio has helped to improve the physical and emotional quality of their lives.
Rio del Cambio has been working with the village of Catalpa for 5 years. We are very proud of the wonderful partnership that we have established with this community. The introduction of the Learning Program, the Sponsorship Program, water filters, the Farmers Co-operative, the addition of the Moringa plant into the village, the new Learning Centre, donated clothes, the Sewing Program, the Solar Ovens and when necessary, monthly food baskets have all helped the people of Citalapa develop a greater sense of independence and hope for the future. 96% of the students now attend elementary school on a daily basis. 86% of the elementary graduates begin high school and each year, a growing number are graduating. In the past, 10% of the students entered high school and few ever graduated. The academic success of the children has improved significantly which has encouraged the children to begin thinking about future jobs or a career.
The physical health of the village has improved over the past 5 years with improved access to clean water and education about better eating habits. We have worked hard to discourage the consumption of pop and sugar, and encouraged the consumption of Moringa which is a native plant that is very high in vitamins, minerals, greens and protein. The villagers add it to their stews, eat it raw as salad and make tea from it that the children drink daily. This has helped to drastically reduce the amount of flu and bacterial infections in the children. The adults are beginning to see improvements in much needed weight lose, as well as less high blood pressure, kidney issues and diabetes.
The situation in Nicaragua continues to be dire and extreme. The affects of the world wide El Nino has left Nicaragua without rain for almost 2 years. This means the very poor, remote, rural community of Citalapa continues to struggle to grow crops to feed their families or find work – full time or part time. Jobs in the local area have disappears as a ripple affect of the drought. Large farms are not hiring and the cost of food and grain is climbing daily.
However, with your ongoing support, Rio del Cambio will continue to encourage and support the village of Citalapa in 2016 by funding the Learning Program and providing monthly food baskets. The Learning Program has grown over the past 5 years from 26 students to over 100. Rio del Cambio funds a tutoring style program for 2-3 hours in the afternoon that focuses on reading, writing and math. This program complements the public school curriculum. The new school year begins on Monday February 15. On this day, each student receives pencil, pens and notebooks for the coming months. For those students entering high school for the first time, they will also receive a new back pack to carry their school supplies and textbook the 7 kms to the nearest high school. Some of the high school students have bicycles to cover this distance but many walk the 7 kms twice a day!
Sadly, Esther (translator) and I will NOT be travelling to Nicaragua for the beginning of the school year as we have traditionally done in the past. With the declining US exchange rate, donations and travel expense have been hit hard. Instead, for the moment, we have decided our dollars would be better spent supporting the Learning Program and food baskets until the situation improves. Although we love to be in the village and see the children, it is an added burden for the villagers to host us with the extreme heat conditions, lack of water and lack of food. I will be monitoring the situation in hopes of visiting Catalpa in the spring when the farmers begin to prepare for planting season.
Again, my most sincere “Thank You” to everyone that supports me and the work of Rio del Cambio. Project Manager, Elias and I are constantly working to make the best decisions for both the people of Citalapa and you, the generous donors that make all of this possible. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions. You can make a donation here or via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a cheque to 3714 20th Sideroad, Innisfil, Ontario. L9S 2Y1 c/o Kari Williams.
Rio del Cambio